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Local farmers encourage growth of Nebraska’s dairy industry

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 8:32 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -Governor Pete Ricketts and local farmers gathered to push the state’s effort to grow the dairy industry across Nebraska as researchers say it could have a major impact on the local economy.

A new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows that growing the dairy industry, to bringing in processing plants could have serious positive impacts on the State’s economy.

Corn, soybeans and beef. These are common sights on Nebraska farms. But there is another good that farmers say has untapped potential.

“When you bring dairy cows to the state of Nebraska, you’re adding on about $12,000 a cow or more, in economic activity to our state,” said Governor Ricketts.

A study from the University finds that if the state expanded the dairy industry across the entire supply chain, it could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, or more.

“The largest impact scenario, as much as $1.7 billion,” said Dr. Eric Thompson, UNL.

Nebraska dairymen said it’s time to grow the dairy industry in the Cornhusker State. They’ve been losing money taking their product out of state for processing.

“Our milk coming from Clearwater, goes to Lamars, Iowa,” said Bill Thiel, Clearwater Dairy Farmer. “For our three loads of milk a day, it’s probably about a difference of about $1,200 just to have a plant closer to us.”

There’s no definitive timeline for this growth, but all groups agree the next step is to find ways to attract processing plants to Nebraska.

“It is vitally important for all the benefit of the dairymen,” said Thiel.

The study shows not only would increased dairy processing benefit other sectors of agriculture, like corn, hay and soymeal, it would also bring jobs to the state.

“What dairy can do for Nebraska is expand our tax base,” said Mark McHargue, President, Nebraska Farm Bureau.

The bottom line is that growing dairy would grow the state. Farmers and economists agree, even bringing in a smaller processing plant would have a positive impact.

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